Whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River is one of those things you “Must Do” when you stay in Blue Ridge with Sundance Cabin Rentals in Blue Ridge, Georgia.
The Ocoee River is managed by the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority), they have a series of dams on the river to generate hydroelectric power. During the spring through fall, they release water on scheduled dates, so that you can experience hours of excitement on Class III and IV rapids. The Ocoee Whitewater Center was the host site of the 1996 Olympics whitewater rafting in Atlanta. The Ocoee River is a mecca for area kayaking.
Last summer we went whitewater rafting with friends from Florida. We reserved our rafting online and arrived at the business’ location in plenty of time to check-in. First, they give you a safety lecture about things you need to know, like what to do if you fall out of the boat. Then they equip you with a helmet, life-jacket and a paddle. You are grouped with your guide and loaded on a bus for your ride to the river.
At the river, we all helped carry the raft down to the river’s edge, where we loaded up and blasted off. This was probably the scariest part of the whole experience, because you are seeing all of the rapids and whitewater down stream, and don’t really know what to expect. Once we got wet the first time, and were over the shock of the cold water, the fears and concerns faded away and the fun began.
We had an excellent guide, Greg, who probably knew the river as well as I know all of the bumps and potholes on the gravel road to my cabin. He continually instructed us, “2 strokes on left, 2 strokes on right, 2 strokes all.” I don’t think we stroked more than 4 strokes more than one or two times, we were paddling to maneuver the raft, the current is swift enough so you don’t have to help the raft downstream.
If they ask you to “Ride The Bull,” go for it! you straddle the front of the raft down a rapid. I was too chicken to try it, but the ones who did were having a blast and yelling their heads off.
I think our fear was that we would flip, we didn’t, but plenty of other rafts did. We traveled down the river in a group of rafts, so the other guides were always on the lookout for the others and making sure that if someone flipped, everyone was okay. They always were.
After we finished our leg of the river, we all loaded up and headed back to our start, bought pictures of us on the river (yes I am in the picture above) souvenirs and headed home. Everyone had a great time, and you will too! I think we were a little sad when it ended.
The Ocoee River runs through the Cherokee National Forest, and they have a regulation prohibiting children under 12 from whitewater rafting, sorry. Children under 18 must have a waiver signed by a parent who is with them.
Plan ahead for this activity, make your reservations ahead of your arrival in Blue Ridge or ask us to make them for you. On busy weekends, you may not be able to book a reservation for whitewater rafting.
We recommend these fine people for your whitewater adventure: Ocoee Adventure Center, Ocoee Rafting, Rolling Thunder River Company . There are other great companies out there too, we just have not used them yet.